TOWNSHEND -- Six members of the BFA-Fairfax boys basketball team had to wait until their senior season to win a playoff game.
And then they did it for a second time on Saturday.
The No. 6 Bullets rode point guard Kris Wehner’s smooth stroke to a 58-45 victory over third-ranked Leland & Gray in a Division 3 quarterfinal, just a couple days after ending a long postseason drought by routing Windsor in a playdown game.
"I think we were put in the right part of the bracket to get there. Our seniors are really enjoying this," said Wehner when asked what it meant to his team to go to the Aud. "I think we’ve been successful because we’re driving to the basket, playing hard defensively and rebounding well."
And it certainly helps to have some deadly outside shooters.
Luke Rebeor and Wehner each buried a couple of trifectas in the opening half. And senior center Jared Demar contributed with a layup and a pair of mid-range jumpers to help the visitors take a 28-20 lead to the break.
The Bullets started the third quarter off with a 6-0 run and were never really challenged the rest of the way.
"Defensively, we got up in their face and played good help-side defense," added Wehner, who finished with a game-high 18 points.
Early on, the host Rebels were using a full-court press that had Fairfax looking uncomfortable. Drew Barnum was deflecting passes, backcourt mates Billy Nupp and Zach Wilkins were intercepting them, and the hosts built a 14-6 lead -- thanks to three layups by Nupp, a trio of buckets from Michael Bergeron and Riley Kenney’s two free throws.
But then the hosts stopped pressing and the lack of chaos allowed the Bullets to dominate.
"Teams do press us. In years past, we struggled with it," noted Wehner. "It just caught us off guard. I wouldn’t say that we were relieved when they stopped pressing us."
Trailing 41-24, a coast-to-coast score by Nupp that came at the very end of the third quarter could have been the spark that Leland & Gray needed. But instead, the hosts would only trade buckets with the Bullets early in the fourth quarter and then watched the visitors go on an 8-0 run.
Using a rotation of Doug Legris, Ben Pomichter, Alec Marble, Rebeor, Demar and Wehner, Fairfax shut the home team down with good, team defense. That is, until Leland & Gray’s late flurry -- Wilkins hit a 3 from the top of the key and Barnum knocked down two shots from downtown to get the Rebels within 53-43 at the 1:27 mark.
That’s as close as they would get.
Wehner and Rebeor paced the Bullets with 18 and 14 points respectively. Barnum (12), Bergeron (10) and Nupp (10) were the high scorers for Leland & Gray.
The Rebels, who beat Peoples 42-39 in the first round, finished their season with a 16-6 record. Fairfax (16-6) will face No. 2 Thetford (18-4) in Thursday’s semifinal at the Aud in Barre, as Thetford defeated Randolph 58-53 in the quarters.
Shane Covey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.